My friend Marina, who grew up in France, often jokes with her husband about the advice Americans offer for preparing leafy greens. They both volunteer at their local food co-op, and whenever they ask for a recipe, people always say, "Just sauté it in olive oil with garlic." This anecdote was on my mind a few months ago when I was faced with a head of beet greens from a bunch of beets I'd bought at the market. My thoughts wandered to creamed spinach. I figured "Why not?" and guessed that a warm bath in some milk might tame their bitterness while softening them up, too. A little bit of grated potato is my secret for thickening this up a bit. A generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg makes the whole dish sparkle. —Jennifer Perillo
1 to 2
head beet greens (from one bunch of beets)
(14 grams) butter
(5 milliliters) olive oil
medium shallot, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Take the beet greens and separate the leaves from the stems (you can save the stems for juicing). Using a paring knife, remove any thick "ribs" from each leaf. Add the greens to a salad spinner, or strainer, and rinse to remove any dirt. Pat the greens in a towel, and coarsely chop them (you should have about 2 cups/85 grams worth); set aside.
Melt the butter and oil in a 2-quart pot. Add the shallots. Cook until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beet greens. Season with salt and pepper (I season generously with the pepper for extra oomph, but feel free to go light if you prefer).
Pour in the milk. Using a hand grater, shred the potato into the pot. Add the nutmeg, and give it all a good stir. Heat the mixture until just before it comes to a boil (you don't want to scald the milk). Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Continue to cook at a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Remove from the heat, and let sit in the pot for 1 to 2 minutes to finish thickening up. Serve hot.
Jennifer Perillo is the Consulting Food Editor at Working Mother magazine, and a regular a contributor to Relish Magazine and FoodNetwork.com. She shares stories about food, family and life at her blog In Jennie's Kitchen and in her debut cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen (Running Press 2013).